Summer Spotlight: VSA-VAD at PS 396K

What a busy summer it has been for us at Arts Horizons! And what an incredible season it has been for arts education! In this special edition of Spotlight, we are pleased to highlight and recognize our virtual and in-person arts education programs under contract with John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ Department of VSA and Accessibility. During the past academic year and this summer, Arts Horizons has been contracted for 5 visual arts residencies at District 75 and Hospital schools in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx through the VSA Children’s Visual Arts Discovery program (VSA-VAD) for students with special needs. Our residencies fulfilled VSA-VAD’s aim “to build students’ skills through the application of sound pedagogical principals and quality curricula to create original words of visual art and the opportunity to explore one more visual arts media and genres.” Through VSA-VAD, Arts Horizons provided approximately 6 hours of instruction per student at each of the schools below: 

  1. PS X811 – Virtual Storytelling & Puppet-making with Miss Navida
  2. Hospital Schools – Virtual Cartooning with Mr. N. Steven Harris*
  3. Hospital Schools – Virtual Visual Arts with Mr. Mansa Mussa*
  4. PS 188X @ PS 34X – Virtual Visual Arts with Mr. Mansa Mussa
  5. PS 396K – In-Person Visual Arts with Mr. Mansa Mussa

* Virtual Hospital School Programs served students in 5 sites:  Kings County Hospital, Brookdale University Medical Center, Richmond University Medical Center, Bronx-Lebanon Fulton Medical Center, and Mt. Sinai-St. Luke’s Hospital.

We would like to first thank these incredible teaching artists for their resilience, resourcefulness, and expertise to successfully conduct virtual and in-person visual arts residencies during these difficult times. We would also like to thank the administrators, faculty, staff, and support staff for their adaptability and unconditional support in ensuring that all our programs through VSA-VAD proceeded as smoothly as possible. We can only continue our mission of providing equitable opportunities in the arts to people of all ages and abilities with our amazing teaching artists and partners.

Let’s take a quick peek at Mr. Mansa Mussa’s recently concluded in-person visual arts summer program at our new partner PS 396K. Mansa is a New Jersey-based visual and performing artist, educator, and consultant who has been a vital part of the Arts Horizons community for over 20 years. He brings to Arts Horizons and PS 396K his extensive experience working with special populations through a variety of artistic mediums including:  collage, mask-making, iPadology/digital art, and bookmaking.

Students and staff at PS 396K created 3 different projects over the course of the 6-week program. For the first project, Scratch Art Drawings, participants utilized a wooden stylus to scratch off black wax coating on a 3.5-inch square to reveal a colorful surprise underneath the carved geometric patterns. The second project was the Healing Hands Collage, one of Mansa’s most beloved lessons. As the name suggests, participants created a collage piece with glue and paper using cutouts of their palm prints and portraits which were then decorated with geometric shapes, text, and stickers. The final project, Book Arts Workshop, combined all of the techniques that participants had studied throughout the residency into a handmade accordion book.

It was a wonderful surprise for Kiran Rajagopalan, AH’s Director of New York Programs, to discover that the PS 396K team had organized a Virtual Art Show as a culminating event. PS 396K teacher Ms. Raquel created a beautiful video presentation of student artwork and behind-the-scenes pictures. We would like to close with a special thank you to Ms. Rachel McCaulsky for being such a great teacher and liaison along with the greater PS 396K community for being welcoming us into your school. Stay tuned for more spotlights with our incredible teaching artists and partners. Have a great rest of the summer and a relaxing Labor Day Weekend!


Kiran Rajagopalan
Director of New York Programs
201-567-1766 ext. 113

About Arts Horizons

Arts Horizons is a premier not-for-profit arts-in-education organization that provides live professional performances and artist-in-residence programs to students and professional development for teachers throughout the entire tri-state region. Our commitment is to make music, art, dance, theatre, new media and creative writing an integral part not only of learning, but of life. Through the transformative impact of the arts, we reach young people through many dimensions, breaking down the barriers of language and culture, accelerating personal growth, and stimulating children’s full potential to prepare them for life in the twenty-first century.

Posted on August 31, 2021, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: